Real Hong Kong News
4th June, 2016
Victoria Park June Forth Vigil: the Cult of the Golden Sacred Calf
By Kael’thas Kamiya
Ever since time immemorial – or at least the Tiananmen Square Massacre in June the Fourth, 1989 – the Hong Kong populace have amassed at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay for the annual 4/June candlelight vigil. Hong Kongers spanning generations come together each 4/June to sing the same songs, to wave their candles, to listen to the same several people recount the tragedy of how a peaceful demonstration by university students and other civilians in china was mowed down by the people liberation army on the orders of the communist “elites”; all of it by habit, with no one even asking why it must be so.
In 2013, new voices amongst the younger generations began to question why Hongkongers must fight for china’s democracy, when the chinese hardly lift a finger for themselves, and why should Hongkongers fight for a people committing cultural genocide in Hong Kong. Lewis Loud, a young commentator in Hong Kong, called the Vigil out as a chinese patriotism propaganda that brainwashes Hongkongers; father of Hong Kong-City-State Building theory, Dr Horace Wan Chin describes the front stage at the Vigil as an insidious altar, for a cult that sacrifices Hong Kong youths by directing their mind and political aspirations towards building a demomcratic china rather than focusing on the political future of Hong Kong.
In 2014, Civic Passion and Hong Kong Proletariat Political Institute organised an independent gathering at the Freedom Fighter Square in Tsim Sha Tsui to commemorate the Tiananmen Square Massacre, but with a very different focus: Figureheads of both groups breathed meaning into an atrocity from a time long ago, in a country not our own, in the context of Hong Kong’s fight against china’s colonisation. The message was simple: the murderers in 1989 are in control of Hong Kong today: Our remembrance of the atrocity is the foundation of Hong Kong’s need to fight for its own sovereignty and dignity.
In 2015, the atmosphere was down as everyone were still reeling from the Umbrella Revolution, but this year in 2016, the tension is electrifying, as a tidal wave of young adults of Hong Kong break their chains. The lessons they have learnt during the Umbrella Revolution, the Reclaim movements in 2015, the protest on Lunar New Year night this year (2016) (dubbed as Fishball Revolution), and various recent political controversies have made clear: for Hong Kong and its people to be saved, we must break free from the mental chains of chinese patriotism – the totem of which is the annual June Fourth vigil at Victoria Park – in order for Hong Kong to become an independent nation and state. As such, university students from across Hong Kong have decided to hold their own June Fourth Remembrance, to criticially discuss the massacre and its meaning to Hong Kong, including reflecting on the old format of commemoration established by the “pro-democracy veterans” in Hong Kong. This is where the sacred cow comes in; the vanguard of the Victoria Park vigil did not want others to challenge their Tiananmen Altar.
The Golden Calf
When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, as he ascended Mount Sinai to converse with God. His followers below lost patience and made their own idol to venerate as God – a golden calf: Moses was angry at this blasphemy when he found out, and smashed God’s covenant against the golden calf.
When Hong Kong was facing the 1997 Handover, the to-be leaders of the Democratic Party was seen as hope for the people in brokering a deal with china: we give you our sovereignty, you let us keep our freedoms. Yet, when the Tiananmen Massacre took place, people were afraid that such a deal will never come to pass, this was where the Alliance in Support for chinese Democracy came in. Formed by members of the Democratic Party, they pledged to do what they can to fight for democracy in china, to the betterment of Hong Kong, and each year they showed their “commitment” by staging the Candlelight Vigil. For a while, people took their annual dosage on this very day and felt something was being done, until 2010 when the Democratic Party sided with the pro-china parties in voting for the china-made political reform. People now started to catch on: they were conned and suckered into giving their money and power to a party that cared nothing for Hong Kong.
This golden calf preyed on the fact that many Hongkongers of the older generations still saw themselves as Chinese, a patriotism of old that saw a people unite to fight against the Japanese invasion in World War Two; fight back against Western imperialism and colonialism, and; give a people their pride, when the West openly discriminated against Asians. The cult of this golden calf told the people of Hong Kong that their duty is to help their brethren still suffering in china, their fellow chinese who do not have the benefit of a democracy, of having a free press, and do not have knowledge of what happened in 1989. This cult also instilled a sense of guilt in this older generation: that while we in Hong Kong prospered and thrived, those in china suffered.
In post-2003, the younger generations discovered that not only did the deadly SARS originate in china, killing 299 Hong Kongers because the elite in china saw fit to cover up the problem; the chinese wealthy elites came to buy up properties causing housing prices to rise sky high, making people unable to get by in their daily lives because they had to save harder to afford to pay the first deposit for their home; the chinese civilians, now called locusts, have been flooding in by the thousands to give birth in Hong Kong, taking essential services away from Hong Kongers in need. Hong Kong people were now also openly being discriminated against, while the chinese are given privileged status to do as they please, and Hong Kongers were increasingly becoming third class citizens in their own home. These younger Hong Kongers realised the chinese were no longer the weak and powerless people, brutally oppressed by the communists, as they were being told annually in the Tiananmen story, but invaders cowering behind the powerful chinese communist party for protection, as they harvested the cream of the crop from Hong Kongers. Worse still, the Vigil vanguard insists that Hong Kongers should look beyond this, to solely focus on how poor and miserable the chinese are, and that it is Hong Kong’s responsibility to look after their every need.
In 2013, the localist movement came to a head, when the chinese unashamedly and unreservedly cleared the shelves of baby formula, as the ones in china were discovered to be contaminated. In Hong Kong where breast feeding is not common (the lack of support and facilities and long working hours are two of the many reasons), baby formula was an essential daily good for Hongkongers, and the people were angered that while they had been thoughtful in helping the chinese in the past, that grace was not returned in kind. In the same year, people started to wake up to the fact that their traditional language and culture were rapidly being uprooted, and yet members of the Vigil vanguard keep telling people nothing is wrong, and claim that it is a must as Hong Kong fully return to embracing its chinese identity.
In 2014, when Civic Passion and Hong Kong Proletariat Political Institute organised a June Fourth Remembrance that was pregnant with meaning for Hongkongers, the golden calf was finally revealed for all to see: the Vigil vanguard cared only for the annual photo of a sea of candlelights to show the world and china, and most importantly, the donations that came with – hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donations – and not about fighting for democracy for Hongkongers, nor really doing anything to advance democracy in china. Using a biblical analogy, many people saw that the Vigil vanguards were like the Pharisees, who cared more about being seen to be holy and keeping God’s commandments, than actually being holy. In 2015, many in the younger generations decided they will no longer dance to the Hamelyn flute of the Vigil vanguard – they will organise their own remembrance for the right reasons, their own reasons.
The Sacred Cow
When a child pointed out that the king was wearing nothing at all, the ensuing laughter sent the king shamedly back to his castle. In Hong Kong, the outcome was different: the king came out in condemnation of the child. The Vigil vanguard vilified the younger generations, especially the university students – once the source of their existence – now being turned upon, denouncing them with unapologetic accusations and character assassinations.
In the first quarter of 2016, a number of universities seceded from the Federation of University Student Unions via a democratic process, and decided that they will hold their own gatherings to remember the Tiananmen Massacre, where students and other young people would gather to discuss the meaning of the tragic event to Hongkongers. Even the Federation of Student Unions, once a criucial part of the Vigil vanguard, decided to hold their own June Fourth Remembrance, possibly because they wanted to avoid further loss of support due to their 2015 leadership’s close ties with the Democratic Party and the pan-democrat parties, the heart of the Vigil vanguard.
There was no uproar when the universities’ announcements were made, but as June Fourth draws near, the Vigil vanguards began their attack. Their first attack was against Althea Suen, the current President of the Hong Kong University Student Union, who published a statement criticising the Victoria Park Candlelight Vigil with her own reasoning backed by her own observations. Hong Kong Peanut (an online pseudo-media outlet founded by members of the League of Social Democrats, a once radical party but now a pan-democrat ally) twisted her words by substituting the “Dark Corner Seven” incident with the Tiananmen Massacre, trying to use her own logic against her, even though the two incidents cannot be compared. Another member of the pan-democrat faction even called Althea a whore for her criticism against the Victoria Park Vigil.
For the return fire by students who are discontent with the Candlelight Vigil, the editor for Hong Kong Shue Yan University called the Vigil vanguard “madams and pimps”, because he saw the Vigil vanguards as treating Hongkongers as prostitutes, sending them to please the chinese’s every desire, and care nothing for the violations that Hongkongers have to suffer at the hands of the chinese. The Vigil vanguards fired back in kind, with one of them remarking that they have tried wooing the students as best as they could, that the Vigil vanguards should stop being reserved and apologetic to these students: veiled threats against the voices of dissent. Others condemned anyone who refused to, or did not participate in the protest march prior to the Candlelight Vigil and the Vigil itself, as cold-blooded supporters of the communists.
If one should think the dissenters had it coming to them for being in opposition, the Vigil Vanguard was not above making their own a target. Back in 2014, when the Alliance for Supporting Chinese Democracy began organising that year’s Candlelight Vigil, the slogan was “The Spirit of Hong Kong: love thy country and love thy people” was denounced by the Vigil’s critics as grossly full of pro-china flavour, and to everyone’s surprise, Ding Zilin, a leader from the Tiananmen Mothers – a group of women once mothers to the students who died in the Tiananmen Massacre – also criticised the slogan. What Ding Zilin said was that she somewhat agrees with the fledgling localists, saying “love thy country” was too much, that the slogan is hurtful to those who suffered or died in 1989. A figurehead within the Alliance for Supporting Chinese Democracy responded, condemning Ding of suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. The underlying idea was a long chanted slogan, that the chinese communist party is not china, that it does not represent china, and that being against the communist party does not mean one is unpatriotic towards china. However, the reality that Ding realised, as did the localists in Hong Kong, is that the chinese communist party has fused with china, that they are now inseparable, but the Vigil vanguard insists that is the way the communist party wants everybody to think, and thus accuse Ding of having Stockholm Syndrome. Ding responded, denouncing the Vigil Vanguard of authoritarianism, of being exactly the very thing they supposedly are fighting against.
Smashing the sacred golden calf
The golden calf at Mount Sinai was an idol that drew the Israelites’ attention away from their faith in God that led them out of bondage in Egypt. Likewise, the Candlelight vigil draws Hongkongers away from their true responsibility – save their own city with their own hands.
Yet, in 2016’s June Fourth protest march, we see sadly that the altar and the cult continues to be effective in brainwashing young Hongkongers with the mantra “unless china has democracy, Hong Kong never will”. To combat this insidious patriotism eating away Hong Kong, there is only one solution: cut the losses and purge our own ranks before facing the enemy, as Chang Kai Shek should have done when the Americans demanded that he made peace with the communist party, or as Moses had done after smashing God’s covenant against the golden calf – getting rid of the idolaters from within.
The terms “china”, “chinese” and “chinese communist party” are deliberatly left un-capitalised, in order to express the author’s disgust over the nation, its ruling party and its colonists.